The Dayton Flyers returned to practice Thursday at the Cronin Center for the first time since their 82-72 loss at Auburn on Saturday.
Even with a challenging game looming at 3:30 p.m. Sunday against Tulsa (7-3) in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., Dayton (5-4) turned all its focus to exams this week. For a number of players, that work will continue until their last exams Friday. Later in the day, the team flies to the east coast.
“Everything’s academics here,” forward Obi Toppin said. “First academics, then basketball. We had a lot of finals this week, a lot of studying, a lot of study tables. Now we have to get back on the court to get ready for Tulsa. My hardest final is going to be tomorrow. History. The West and the World.”
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Junior Trey Landers said his hardest exam was geology. He was done with exams as he prepared to start practice Thursday.
“Oh man, exams got me tired,” Landers said, “but I’m ready to be back in the gym with my teammates to get ready for the game we’ve got Sunday.”
For coach Anthony Grant, a 1987 University of Dayton graduate, preparing for this week started more than a week ago.
“Papers had to be written, projects finished and also exams they’ve got to prepare for,” Grant said. “It’s a challenging time. There’s a lot on their plate. We talked starting maybe 10 days ago about taking care of what they need to take care of. This week, it’s been really, ‘Do what you need to do academically.’ We’ve touched them a litlte bit in terms of film, but other than that, it’s about letting them do what they need to do.”
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Beth Flach, the academic coordinator for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, plays a big role in helping the players succeed in the classroom. She has worked at the university since 2006.
“She’s huge, critical,” Grant said. “She’s got an unbelievable feel for each guy on our team. She’s got a great relationship with each one of them and knows how they learn best and puts them in a great position. Obviously, the guys have to do the work, but they feel they can can rely on her in terms of the relationships she has on campus with faculty and the relationships she’s developed with them in terms of what’s needed and where their focus needs to be.”